About Our Programs

The Appalachian State University Geological and Environmental Sciences Department (aGES) provides students with a solid foundation on which to build a successful career in the geosciences and environmental sciences. We are the largest undergraduate geosciences department in the UNC system, and we have been successful in establishing a program that is arguably among the best Bachelor degree programs in earth and environmental sciences available in the southeastern United States.

At aGES, we offer the following degree programs and concentrations:

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See our What should I major in? page to determine if our programs are right for you!

See Get Involved! for opportunities for aGES students in research, outreach, and teaching.

What should I major in?

"What's the difference between environmental studies and environmental science?"

"Isn't geology just about rocks?" (no!)

"What is better for the job I want? A geology degree or an environmental science degree?"

Many students come into our program a bit confused as to what the geosciences and environmental sciences actually are.  Click here for a detailed explanation between the different degree tracks within the geosciences and environmental sciences here at Appalachian. This page will help guide you to the degree track that is right for you - either in this department or in a different department.

If you're not yet sure you want to major in Geology or Environmental Science, take one (or more) of our many General Education classes - learn about water resources, environmental cleanup, dinosaurs, oceanography, natural disasters, energy resources, fossils, and of course... rocks.  According to Slate, "Introductory Geology classes are the best science electives" and we certainly agree!

Ask A Geologist

You've got questions? We've got answers!  Ask A Geologist!

Did you find something that puzzled you in your backyard or on top of a mountain? Have questions about local environmental problems? Want to know about what's going on in Boone Creek, the Watauga River, and the New River? Concerned about fracking in your region? Do you have a mineral that you can't identify? Think you found a meteorite? We will do our best to answer any geological/environmental question. We also have pages that answer some of our most frequently asked questions.

What's so special about our department?

We study more than just rocks.

Geology is about more than just rocks.

Environmental Science is about more than just ecology, policy, or regulations.

What is Geology?

Our faculty have expertise in all fields of the Earth and Environmental sciences.

Click on our each of our research programs below to see what we do!

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How does the earth move?

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Tectonics Research Group:

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What processes affect water supply and quality?

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Hydrology and Environmental Geology Research Group:

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What do fossils tell us?

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Paleontology Research Group:

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What do landforms tell us? How do humans influence landscapes?

Surface processes

Surface Processes Research Group

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What do the minerals in rocks tell us? What is the role they play in the environment?

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Mineralogy, Petrology, and Geochemistry Research Group:

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How is Earth's climate recorded in minerals, rocks, sediment, water, and ice? How has climate changed through time?

Records of Climate Change

Records of Climate Change Research Group:

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Latest News

Environmental Science major Skye-Anne Tschoepe awarded Southeast GSA grant to study water quality in the New River

Environmental Science major Skye-Anne Tschoepe was recently awarded a $750 research grant from the southeastern section of the Geological Society of A...

Appalachian Alumni in the Wall Street Journal

Appalachian GES alumni Lamont Leatherman and Emily Blackburn now work for Piedmont Lithium, which is part of the race to produce domestic raw material...

Paleontology professor Dr. Andy Heckert in Appalachian Today

"Revealing Earth’s story through the geologic record" - Appalachian Today interviews Dr. Andy Heckert about his work with Triassic vertebrates, stud...

Outreach Coordinator Marta Toran in the Watauga Democrat

Teachers across western NC are grateful to Marta Toran and the GES outreach team's Mini Rockin’ NC kits, which allow local students to have hands-on...

Skye-Anne Tschoepe receives Sigma Xi award to study Greenway water quality

Sophomore GES major Skye-Anne Tschoepe won an award from Sigma Xi, a scientific honor society, to advance her thesis work studying the impact of an ar...

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